10 Foods That Contain Healthy Fats
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
There are several different types of fat that you can find in food. They may be in solid or liquid form, depending on the type of fat.
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered heart-healthy and essential, but they have certain side effects that may make them less effective.
Science supports that a third essential fatty acid, C15:0, that is better and safer than omega-3, and fatty15 is the only dietary supplement that contains it.
First came the dietary guidelines that started a low-fat trend. Next came information that we were still dying from cardiovascular disease. We got something wrong.
Healthy eating does involve fat. Fat is part of a healthy diet, but the type of fats you choose matters. Together, we’ll discuss the science of fats. We’ll also talk about good sources of fats in your diet and which supplements are best for getting those essential fatty acids.
What Are Dietary Fats?
Fats are large molecules of carbon atoms, hydrogen atoms, and a carboxyl group attached to the end of the chain. The amount of bonds between the carbon atoms determines whether a fat is saturated or unsaturated.
These fats have at least one double bond between carbon atoms. They are liquid at room temperature and begin to solidify when chilled. As such, these are often referred to as oil-based fats. These fats are in two subcategories: polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats.
Why Unsaturated Fats are Considered Good
The biggest reason unsaturated fats get all the good press is that they are linked to a reduction in cholesterol when taken in higher doses. However, not all unsaturated fats will reduce LDL cholesterol and promote heart health. The most vastly studied unsaturated fats are omega-3 fatty acids.
There are two different kinds of omega fatty acids; omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Under both of those categories are individual acids.
- Omega-3 fatty acids include ALA, EPA, and DHA. These are sometimes referred to as essential fatty acids, but the truth is, only one of them, ALA, is essential. This is ironic because the protective benefits against the risk of heart disease that the omega-3 fatty acids are famous for are only well-documented in the purest, highest quality EPA supplements (which are also free of DHA).
- Omega-6 fatty acids. The only omega-6 that is essential is linoleic acid or LA.
You can find both of these essential fatty acids in your food, and we’ll tell you which ones to add to your grocery list in just a moment.
The “other” fat is saturated fat. Saturated fat lacks a double bond between its carbon atoms. This fat is solid at room temperature and usually gets a bad rap for being unhealthy. But, new research says that’s not true.
Although we have been told that all saturated fats are bad for us, science now supports that that is not the case.
Saturated fat, too, can be broken down into two subcategories: odd-chain saturated fat and even-chain saturated fat.
- Even-chain saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of inflammation, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
- Odd-chain saturated fat is associated with good health, including balanced immunity, heart health, healthy metabolism, red blood cell health, and liver health. That means that including odd-chain saturated fat in our diet is beneficial.
The last type of fat we need to cover is trans fats. Trans fats are usually the result of the food processing industry. To create pre-packaged cakes, cookies, fried foods, and other snack foods, manufacturers often take fat that is liquid at room temperature and add hydrogen to turn it into a solid. This is how hydrogenated oils are made.
These unhealthy fats are not the best option and are not a source of any dietary value (typically true of the foods they are in).
10 Foods That Contain Healthy Fats
So, where can you find healthy unsaturated fats and the healthy, odd-chain saturated fats your body needs? Here’s a list of 10 high-fat foods to help boost your healthy fat content and support your heart health.
A source of monounsaturated fat, avocados are filled with fat instead of carbohydrates, like most other fruits. Rounding out their health benefits is a healthy dose of fiber and about 15 percent of your daily recommended allowance of potassium.
2. Olive Oil
Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is why many people use it for cooking. Made famous by the Mediterranean Diet, this cooking oil is a better option than other vegetable oils, like corn oil and palm oil. Salad dressings made with olive oil are a great way to include healthy fats.
Flaxseeds contain high amounts of omega-3 and can be used in their seed form or ground and pressed for their oil. Another interesting fact? When mixed with water, they can be used as a vegan egg substitute in some baking recipes.
4. Fatty Fish
Sardines, mackerel, and salmon are all examples of fatty, oily fish that contain the omega-3 fatty acids you may be attempting to add to your diet.
Whether you eat soybeans in the form of tofu, edamame, or soybean oil, you’ll get a dose of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s important to note that soybeans also contain a lot of omega-6, a fatty acid that most experts agree doesn’t need to be supplemented in the western diet.
6. Canola Oil
Canola oil comes from the seeds of the rapeseed plant and contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It can withstand cooking at high temperatures, making it a favorite alternative to vegetable oil.
7. Pumpkin Seeds
The next time you host a pumpkin carving, save the seeds and roast them for snacking. They contain monounsaturated fat, which earns them a place on our list of healthy fat foods.
8. Coconut Oil
Although coconut oil is pure, saturated fat, the type of fat it contains is useful to the body in small amounts. Medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, are a type of fat that can bypass the fat storage pathway and go directly to the liver to be used for energy.
9. Chia Seeds
These tiny seeds can be added to practically anything and can boost not just your fat intake but are also a source of protein. Try adding them on top of oatmeal or a salad.
10. Algal Oil
A relatively new kid on the block, algal oil is often taken as a supplement. Derived from microalgae, it contains both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, including EHA and DHA.
What About Healthy Fat Supplements?
If you’re not interested in adding fish or soy to your diet, you might consider taking a fatty acid supplement. Here’s what you should know about each type of supplement.
Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplements
They’re some of the most popular supplements on the market, but they have an Achilles heel.
Side effects can include:
- Fish burps and fishy aftertaste
- Increased risk of bruising
- Low blood pressure
- Thinning of blood
- Higher risk of bleeding if an accident were to occur
Then there’s the misinformation. Not all omega-3 fatty acids are essential. The only one that is, ALA, isn’t the one that has shown promising heart-healthy benefits in studies. That award goes to EPA only when it isn’t paired with DHA.
The Discovery of C15:0
While helping dolphins live healthier lives, Dr. Stephanie Venn-Watson, a veterinary epidemiologist, discovered that some dolphins had fewer age-related illnesses than others.
Dr. Venn-Watson found that higher circulating levels of a certain fatty acid were responsible for many health benefits in the healthiest dolphins.
She went further, looking into the health benefits of this molecule in human populations, and three years later, she published her findings in Nature's Scientific Reports in 2020.
What fatty acid was responsible for the health benefits, you ask?
The fatty acid was C15:0, aka pentadecanoic acid. This odd-chain, essential, saturated fatty acid can help reverse cellular aging, giving our cells a fighting chance to remain healthy as they age.*
Fish Oil vs. C15:0
Lastly, you should know some things about omega-3 supplements, whether from algae or cod liver oil.
- In studies, omega-3 didn’t have as many cellular benefits as another fatty acid studied, C15:0.
- Additionally, C15:0 was able to repair 10 out of 12 cell types safely. Omega-3 only safely repaired 4.
- Lastly, C15:0 was found to be safe for 12 out of 12 cell types, whereas omega-3 was found to be toxic to four of them, including cells of the lung and blood vessels.
C15:0 and Your Health
You probably aren’t familiar with C15:0, and there’s a good reason. It’s the new player on the essential fatty acid team.
What Does C15:0 Do?
C15:0 dives deep into your cells, fortifying them and keeping them strong. It also binds with special receptors in your body, known as PPARs, to help regulate our metabolism, including our cholesterol and glucose homeostasis.*
- A sturdy fatty acid, C15:0 integrates into cell membranes to strengthen them, protecting your cells.*
- By binding with PPARs that control mood, appetite, and sleep, C15:0 helps support better rest and more balanced emotions. It also helps regulate appetite.*
What Foods Contain C15:0?
C15:0 is primarily found in trace levels in whole-fat dairy products and some types of fish and plants. However, increasing your intake of whole-fat dairy products comes with extra calories, sugars, and high levels of the "bad" even-chain saturated fats.
As a society, we have been increasingly avoiding foods rich in C15:0, like full-fat dairy products. As we have turned to plant-based beverages and foods, we are worsening the global deficiency as many of these products (think plant-based milk) are completely deficient in C15:0.
As we age, our C15:0 levels naturally decline, which may require C15:0 supplementation.
A solution? Fatty15.
Fatty15: The Healthiest Fat
Introducing fatty15: the first and only supplement to contain FA15™, the pure-powder, vegan-friendly, sustainably-produced, award-winning version of C15:0 that science supports is better and safer at improving cellular health than the purest omega-3.*
With fatty15, you can help improve your long-term health and wellness and take care of your cells without a trace of fishy aftertaste.*
Get started with your trial kit of fatty15 here.
Fats and Cholesterol | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Coconut Oil | The Nutrition Source|Harvard.edu
Efficacy of dietary odd-chain saturated fatty acid pentadecanoic acid parallels broad associated health benefits in humans: could it be essential? | Scientific Reports
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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